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Hardeeville Police Chief Sam Woodward said the recent population increase in the city has led to an increase in some crimes, but overall the crime numbers last year remained steady from 2017.
“Our population is getting bigger and the city is also getting bigger, so we have seen a fluctuation in the number of cases in the city,” Woodward said. “Certain crimes increased, but for the most part the numbers either stayed the same or decreased.”
According to U.S. Census data as of 2017, the city’s estimated population was 5,967, compared to 2016 (pop: 5,535). In 2015, the population was 5,195. The population increase this decade has been significant considering it was an estimated 2,952 people in 2010.
Woodward said, in his opinion, an increase in population affected the number of drug violations; last year the city had 160 such violations, compared to 116 in 2017.
“With the increase in people, we also saw the increase in drug violations and also in the number of robberies which increased from 15 in 2017 to 21 in 2018,” he said. “The city has seen growth along Argent Boulevard and with the addition of Margaritaville and other developments, which adds more people to our population.”
Other crimes that increased included simple assaults, which rose from 62 in 2017 to 92 in 2018. Shoplifting cases increased from 29 in 2017 to 40 in 2018.
“When you have more people in a city, there is also a need for additional staff,” Woodward said. “I have requested more staff in this budget which would include another investigator and school resource officers.”
The city saw a decrease in several crimes, including homicides, which dropped from two in 2017 to none in 2018. Vandalism cases dropped from 71 in 2017 to 63 last year. Aggravated assaults also dropped from 31 in 2017 to 21 last year.
Reported burglaries saw a decrease (20 in 2017 to 17 in 2018) and the number of motor vehicle thefts declined from 17 in 2017 to 15 last year. In 2017, there were 62 reports of breaking into a vehicle, but the number dropped last year to 37 cases.
“Overall, our crime numbers remained about the same, but we know with an increase in population, we will have to increase our staff,” Woodward said.